Did you know that in certain cases, incontinence can actually be cured?
Knowledge, understanding, prevention and treatment all play a huge role in improving one’s bladder and bowel conditions. Playing an active role in your own health and wellbeing is the first step to a life with minimal or no incontinence symptoms.
Knowledge is key. Know what is causing your incontinence, whether it be illness, disease, medication or something very simple that you might change in your day to day life.
Discussions with your medical professional, Continence Nurse or GP is an excellent starting point to learn more about your particular condition which can lead to talking about changes you can implement to manage and prevent incontinence.
Before considering the treatment path, it is important to understand the different types of incontinence, these are:
Stress Incontinence: an increased abdominal pressure on the bladder
Urge Incontinence: an involuntary contraction of the bladder muscles
Overflow Incontinence: due to the blockage of the urethra
Neurogenic: impaired functioning of the nervous system
Surgery can be an option, but it depends on the type of urinary incontinence you have. The most common type of incontinence that surgery will be available for is ‘stress’ incontinence. However, surgical alternatives are available for other bladder problems including ‘urge’ incontinence.
Weakened pelvic floor and connective tissue that support the bladder are a symptoms of stress incontinence. A surgical approach called a sling procedure is the synthetic material (mesh) or strips of your body’s tissue are used to create a pelvic sling underneath your urethra and the area of thickened muscle where the bladder connects to the urethra (bladder neck) helping keep the urethra closed.
A cancerous bladder can be operated on in the early stages, to remove cancerous tissue and tumors on the bladder wall. This is called transurethral surgery. In some situations where the cancer has progressed, sections of the bladder can be fully removed (partial cystectomy) or if too advanced the entire bladder can be removed. This is called a radical cystectomy and often requires further reconstructive surgery for urine diversion.
A protrusion of the pelvic organs into the vaginal canal is called a prolapse and happens when the pelvic floor becomes weakened or damaged. Depending on which organ or organs have prolapsed, the woman’s age and whether she wishes to retain her uterus will depend on the surgical procedure or approach is available.
Although most procedures will include repairing the vaginal wall and its structures, surgical approaches for ‘urge’ incontinence are often rare. In most cases alternative treatments including medications are used, but in some cases, bladder augmentation can be offered only as a last resort.
Seek advice from a Urologist or Gynaecologist for more specific and detailed information regarding surgery and your options.
Understanding how your medications work, along with the possible side effects can make your incontinence easier to manage and possibly give you insight into what and how you can change things to prevent or minimise incontinence completely. Some types of medication used to assist with reducing or eliminating the effects of incontinence include:
- Anticholinergics: can calm an overactive bladder and maybe helpful for urge incontinence
- Mirabegron: relaxes the bladder muscles and can increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold
- Alpha blockers: used for men to relax bladder neck muscles and muscle fibres in the prostate and make it easier to empty the bladder
- Topical estrogen: applying low-dose, topical estrogen in the form of a vaginal cream, ring or patch may help tone and rejuvenate tissues in the urethra and vaginal areas
With this said there are also medications that have side effects that increase the risk of incontinence. Discussions with your medical professional or GP are a great way to learn more about your particular situation, the medications you’re taking and their side effects and talking about changes you can implement to manage and prevent incontinence.
Prevention tools are great to add to your routine to help minimise incontinence symptoms.
4 top prevention tools that you can implement into your daily routine are:
- 1. Healthy Diet: avoiding spicy and acidic foods such as curries and citrus fruits as they can irritate the bladder and make symptoms worse. Eating a high fibre diet can improve bowel function by absorbing water and adding bulk to your bowel motions
- 2. Exercise: including pelvic floor exercises. Avoid high impact training to start as it adds pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and can increase leakage. Light walking, pilates and core strength training can help. Regular exercise (30 mins a day) will not only increase strength throughout the body and abdominal muscles but also help with weight loss which in turn will decrease pressure on fatty tissue on the bladder
- 3. Quit unhealthy habits: including smoking, alcohol, fizzy drinks, caffeine. On ongoing cough associated with smoking can weaken the muscles of your pelvic floor and lead to bladder and bowel control problems. Alcohol, fizzy and caffeinated drinks can irritate the bladder so reducing them can be very beneficial although don’t reduce fluid intake completely, unless advised by a health professional as a reduction in fluids can concentrate your urine making the problem worse
- 4. Practice good toilet habits: don’t leave going to the toilet until the last minute. When you feel the urge to go it is best to go as soon as you can and not hold on too long but don’t go “just because”. This tends to train the brain to go even when there is nothing there creating a weakness in muscles . Holding onto urine in the bladder can lead to the bladder stretching and causing the muscles to become weaker. ‘Holding on’ can also cause bacteria to build up causing an infection. Planning ahead can assist knowing where toilets are located if you are away from home or familiar environment. Also positioning yourself correctly on the toilet when opening your bowels will help make toileting easier as it sets up a clear tunnel for the movement to follow
Treatment of incontinence will vary from person to person but some simple things like those mentioned above will assist in the prevention of ongoing incontinence and possibly even cure or avoid incontinence in the future. Always discuss your situation and/or concerns with a healthcare professional before implementing any significant changes to your lifestyle.
At ConfidenceClub, we specialise in moderate to heavy incontinence needs products. All our products have been carefully chosen to provide maximum comfort, ease of use, and confidence to anyone who is facing incontinence.